I was starting to realize that I was going to be stuck here for possibly a long haul, and that the cottage was now home, modest as it was.
I spent a day or two adding more storage space with shelving and lockers.
One of the yellow secretary bird-like creatures – chocobos, they were called, according to the book I found – appeared to take a liking to the root vegetables I was carrying. Gysahl greens, said the book.
It followed me home, seemingly hoping for more treats, and appeared docile enough, so I converted the ground floor’s stables to house it.
Using the fruits of my smeltery labors, the sliding door to accommodate its height and width took a little longer to install.
It even let me saddle it up and ride it, though I kept banging my helmeted head against the ceiling when moving it in and out of the cottage. Not much I could do about that though, raising the ceiling or lowering the floor was going to affect other already built up areas.
Having cleaned up the cottage some, it was time to clean up elsewhere.
I now had plenty of iron to reinforce my modest wooden bow, and even jury rigged two iron bows together with a mechanism that let me fire two or three arrows at once.
Traveling northeast again to the strange tower, I weathered out a nasty blizzard.
There was an awfully loud crash-thud that night, and later, along the way to Weisferd, I found the source of it.
A large meteor had struck near the plains by the abandoned blacksmith’s.
(The horse had proven quite uncooperative to ride – Olive was far more maneuverable and agreeable, though she kept shedding feathers all over the house.)
In the morning, with better visibility, the golem and I traded off firing projectiles at each other.
There were moments where I had to back off and find a nearby water source to put my flaming armor out before I got roasted alive, but ultimately it fell.
And so did the tower with it.
There was no way I was going to get up to the top in time. That ship had sailed when the golem took out multiple floors of stairs much earlier on, but at least I could walk by without feeling its one eye always watching… and fearing a fireball in the back.
Later, I found a smaller meteor site by the river near Weisferd, most of it submerged underwater.
The frequency of meteor landings was getting a bit disturbing, and I hoped there was no alien intelligence behind them.
The last meteor I found on the trip back didn’t allay my fears any, for a strange alien creeper appeared as I was mining the meteorite from it and exploded in my face. My armor caught the brunt of it, fortunately.
There was also an odd chest deep in the meteor’s very center, containing glowing red gems that did not look like they were from this land, or any earth, for that matter.
It was along the journey back, along the flight path of the albatross, keeping my eyes peeled for any sign of what it might have been indicating, that I found the stone stairs.
Climbing it for a better view of the surroundings, I spied a curious floating island in the sky. Was this where the albatross laired? A place where only fliers could get to?
Dropping down behind the stairs, it turned out that it was also a grey stairwell leading downward into what turned out to be a dungeon, complete with chest mimics and minotaurs.
On the return trip home, pondering various ways to get to the floating island – a bridge or tower would work, but be terribly inelegant and not very mobile…
Eventually, I decided I was going to need more than just Olive.
I was going to need a -lot- of chocobos.